Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Sniff Test for the History of Preservation of Scripture

I open up the refrigerator looking for something to eat and an item looks great, but I don't know if it is still good. What do I do? I sniff it. It's one of those basic tests. I guess we have a pretty good idea if something smells right or not. I don't think I remember putting anything in my mouth that didn't at least pass the sniff test.

A lot of things don't smell right in the attack on the doctrine of perfect preservation of Scripture. That's OK, just go ahead and eat it. No? I don't blame you. One thing for sure I can't swallow is this idea that the historic understanding of the church about preservation is that the Bible has errors in it. It doesn't pass the sniff test. How about you taking a sniff and telling me what you think? They would say, "The church has always thought this. They knew that not one copy was the same, so that we couldn't be sure what the exact words of the Bible were. I mean, the church has believed that the originals were perfect, but the church never held to some idea that we ever had one perfect copy to lay our hands on." Alright, take a big sniff of that, and tell me what you think?

I read my Bible. I see the respect that the Bible has for itself. It claims perfection. I don't see a qualification of the originals alone being perfect. Even our big passage on inspiration, 2 Timothy 3:16, 17, should give one pause to take a big bite of the above fake history. What Scripture did Timothy have that was profitable for doctrine, etc., that he said was inspired? They weren't the originals of the Old Testament. They were copies. "Scripture" can't be referring to the ideas or "content" either. It is a word too specific to be that. So I sniff and I wrinkle my nose on this idea that Christians have taken the position that we aren't sure what the exact Words of Scripture are.

If we are going to start eroding and working down the Words, then why not start working on the Books too? Why 66 of them? The Multiple Version advocates want us to think that theirs is a historic position on preservation. They say "Multiplicity of the Manuscripts." It sounds scholarly, like it has dust on it, well-aged. They can't produce any kind of viable history for themselves before the late 1800s. Part of how they do this is through false accusations. They not only have their own fake history, but they have made up an all new fake history for those who believe God has perfectly preserved the Bible. They figure that if they say it enough times with a look of sincerity, that people will believe them.

Take a deep breath of this new position on the history of preservation. I can't eat it. It's not just the indigestion. It doesn't match up with my God. It doesn't fit with my view of the Bible. To get around all this, most people reading the modern versions have no clue they are reading from a different text. In their minds, they are just reading updated English. Most of the "scholars" are happy to continue having them believe that error, at least until they have their new historical record all in place. They have revised history. Believers have always believed that God has miraculously preserved His Words. Don't let let them fool you. At least take that sniff test.

Something smells. And it stinks.
This month of February, 2007, over at Jackhammer we will be pounding away on the issue of the preservation of Scripture.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Explaining Why

Sometimes there's no explanation, only revelation. And revelation is enough. Jesus said so. He said that we live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). I like certainty. I think you do too. Not everything comes with absolute certainty. Everything about God Himself does; however, not everything on earth. That uncertainty is part of the curse of sin. I'm thankful that once we get past this side of eternity and no longer are looking through a dark glass, we'll know even as we are known.

One of our neighbors for several years comes from the African country of Eritrea. We have enjoyed them as neighbors. They have had three children. Early on, as we got to get to know them and they observed our children, they mentioned their appreciation for their behavior many occasions. My younger daughters enjoyed playing with them in our court at different times. When their oldest, a boy, became of school age, he attended our school, Bethel Christian Academy. They have loved and supported our school. We have gotten together with them for one of our five week Bible studies. They have visited our church. Their background is Coptic Orthodox. The oldest, a boy, my wife teaches piano, and I had driven him to school along with my children until this year. This year, however, I drove their middle child, a boy, to school. Two years ago they were blessed with a baby girl.

About six months ago, their daughter couldn't walk straight and fell over, dizzy, and they knew something was wrong. They found that she had a very rare kind of brain tumor, until they finally discovered that it was the only thing like it that doctors had ever seen for someone her age. They operated to take out the tumor. They were successful and she went on chemotherapy. My daughters went over to play their violins for her when she was in the hospital in the city. Shortly thereafter, another tumor occurred in the same location. They operated to repair a shunt but they couldn't take the second tumor out, and she went into a coma. Along with my assistant pastor, on Thursday night I went to a hospice to pray for her and encourage them. The mother had a very vivid dream the night before that we prayed for her and she woke up from her coma. She may have woken up the next night, Friday, but not here. She woke up in glory with the Lord.

How do we explain little ones like this two year old dying of something like this brain tumor? I don't have an explanation. I don't know exactly what God's will is in this situation. I can go to the Bible, however, to find out some things that are absolutely true. First, God is a good God and everything from Him is good (James 1:17). Nothing is bad from Him.

Second, bad comes from us, from men, because of our sin. I don't think it was her sin per se that led to this death specifically, but all men are sinners and everyone is born with a sin nature, so we all die. It is appointed unto all of us (Hebrews 9:27). God did allow her death. That I know. We all die because God either causes it or allows. We don't even know which of the two it is. That's were there is the uncertainty. We also know that the sting of death is sin, but thanks be to God through Jesus Christ, that sin can be removed by His grace (1 Cor. 15:56, 57). Death without sin is like a graduation day. That's why the Bible says "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints" (Psalm 116:15). So even in death, we can see God's goodness.

Third, even though we don't know why this little one died, we do know that God is eternally loving, wise, and powerful. He could have done something to stop it, but He didn't. That means that what happened is the best. I can only say that because I'm trusting God. He deserves to be trusted. The truth is that we all really deserve far worse than we get, and it is only as good as it is because of His love, mercy, and grace. We can give God glory at these times by trusting in Him. It might be easier to trust Him when times are good, but these are supreme times to let God know that we believe in Him.

I haven't been perfect in this my entire life, but right now I have a lot of peace from my trust in Him, and I thank Him for it. I can pass that peace along to others. I could bring comfort and witness to this family. That would make me a peacemaker, for which I can rejoice in God. I know He knows the way through the wilderness, all I have to do is follow. He's my strength for today and He's mine alway, so all I need is to follow. I know I can count on Him, so I will, even if I can't explain every reason why.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Scoop on Spanking

This great state of Caleefornia is at it again. We are trailblazing in reverse, moving our psychobabble over the Donner pass and into the Great Plains. Sally Lieber, democratic representative from Mountain View, with no children and one cat, has announced she will soon present a bill to the legislature banning corporal punishment of children aged zero to three. She said her measure would make spanking a misdemeanor, subject to a maximum one-year jail term and $1,000 fine. Remember that Lieber doesn't mind killing them as long as they're still in the womb. The moment they're born though, look out!! She makes some very enlightening statements, such as: they're "absolutely defenseless." The thought has occurred that we could get some martial arts training for toddlers so that they can disobey, rebel, and then defend themselves when a parent attempts to swat them on the tush (that protruding padded area on their back sides).

Ms. Lieber, dedicated feline owner, says that children become "addicted to violence" by means of spanking. I can guarantee you that she is basing that on no credible study. She should look at the statistics on assaults on children in very enlightened Sweden, who banned spanking of children in a 1979 law. Before the law, Sweden saw 21% of the violence against children seen in the U. S. Since then, Sweden has seen a 672% increase in assaults by minors against minors and a 489% increase in one particular child abuse statistic. Hey, evidence shows that not getting spanked is what results in more violence from and against young people. Ouch!! And we're not talking spankings.

Catmeister Sally says, "They don't understand the connection between their conduct and the spanking." Wow. And she owns a cat. Perhaps she could get a puppy, because puppies not yet a year old can be trained the meaning of "No." Puppies are trained using non-abusive corporal punishment. I've got an announcement for you. You ready? People are smarter than dogs. There it is. Take some time to let that sink in. Children before the age of one can understand the connection between their conduct and the spanking.

Ms. Leiber talks like we can't discern the difference between abuse and proper discipline. They are extremely easy to delineate. That is just a lie. Our governator, commenting on the proposed bill, said that the parents of his native Austria smacked kids for everything. He wondered whether they were just bitter over losing the war. Other columnists opposing the Lieber bill still are sure to mention that they themselves don't agree with spanking. All of this creates an atmosphere of fear for parental discipline. That isn't going to help parents at all. Children are lacking in discipline, not getting too much of it.

Alright, all of the above pales in comparison to the fact that God tells us to use spanking as a means of child training. Several verses in Proverbs lay out the details. I guarantee you that it works and does not result in "more violence" or in "breaking a child's spirit" when done Scripturally correct. I've got five closing words for all of us: LET'S SAY NO TO SALLY!!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Should We Pray for the Sick?

I have noticed for years that many churches in prayer meetings emphasize prayer for the sick. How many Bible sermons have you heard on praying for the sick? None that I remember. I realize that we don't probably hear too much on prayer anyway in sermons, but does the New Testament tell us to pray for the sick? When it comes to prayer (or anything else), Scripture is sufficient. We have practices taught in Scripture, but we also have those acts that are emphasized in the Bible, ones that God wants us to do more than others. Shouldn't we be praying for what we see the people in the Bible praying for?

When you study the prayers of the Apostle Paul in the epistles, how much do we see him praying for the sick? He doesn't pray for Timothy that we know of. He tells him to use the best medicine of the day. He doesn't pray for Epaphroditus. He does pray for himself three times, but God says "No, my grace is sufficient." That means that healing Paul wasn't in God's will. So far we have praying for sickness isn't in God's will. Paul asks for two different churches in two different epistles to pray for his boldness in proclaiming the Gospel. He prays for others to be filled with the knowledge of the Lord's will and for their love to abound more and more. So, for as many prayers that go up for the sick, where do we get from the NT that this is in God's will?

I could defend praying for the sick with Scriptural implications at the most. I don't defend it using James 5:14, 15. If there is any place people go to teach this, they go to James 5:14, 15. Those verses read:
Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
I contend that this text gets ripped from its context to defend praying for the physically ill (i.e., those with cancer, the flu, etc.).

The Pre-Context of James 5:14, 15

The pre-context of James 5:14, 15 goes back to the first verse (hmmmmm). I think we do well to pick it up in v. 4 with laborers. A harvest is coming in which people will be slaughtered. On the other hand, Christian workers, will suffer in the here and now for their work, but they will be rewarded in the end at the coming of the Lord, so they must be patient (vv. 7-8). We know that the Lord is coming so we need the patience of Job to endure to the end as we are suffering affliction for our present labor (vv. 9-11). If we are afflicted for our testimony for the Lord, we should pray (v. 13a) and if we are not, then we should sing (v. 13b). Then we get our text in v. 14. The context does not say anything about diseases we call sickness. The context is about living for the Lord in a hostile culture, where persecution will occur and we will suffer for it.

The Internal Context

"Is any sick among you?" The term "affliction" in verse 13 parallels with "sick" in verse 14. "Sick" (asthenei) in v. 14 can mean "sick" as in "disease," but also "weak." Consider these usages of the same Greek term:
Romans 14:1, 2, 21, "Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. . . . It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak."

1 Corinthians 8:9, 11, 12, "But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. . . . And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:21, 29, "I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. . . . Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?"
OK, here's one that fits the context of James 5:14, 15 perfectly, that is, 2 Corinthians 12:10, "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." Godly people go through persecution for their labor for God on this earth, suffering affliction, and they should pray. However, if one of them cannot pray, because he is too weak from that affliction and persecution, he should call someone over to his house who can pray for him. Persecution could leave a person spiritually weak, discouraged, and ready to give up.

You ask, "What about the anointing with oil?" "Anointing" is not ceremonial. A whole separate Greek word is used for ceremonial anointing. This word is medicinal. It would be akin in contemporary English to "rub." The good Samaritan used "oil" (same Gk. word) to rub into the wounds of the injured man (Luke 10:34). Today this might be some kind of therapeutic massage. A rub or massage will bring blood to an injured area to promote healing. It feels very good and actually can encourage the one feeling sore and down.

Here is someone who has suffered for the faith and in this state of affliction is weak. The men who are on praying ground come over to pray over him while he struggles with prayer, strengthening him spiritually, and also giving treatment with oil to his beaten muscles and tissue. "Oil" is symbolic of the Holy Spirit in Scripture, and surely there is some spiritual implication to their rubbing this man spiritually, bringing him back in spiritual strength, so that he is no longer "sick," that is, "weak."

In v. 15, the term "sick" is still different (kamno), found only here and two other places in the NT. In Hebrews 12:3, it is completely fitting with this interpretation, reading: "For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied (kamno) and faint in your minds." Also Revelation 2:3, where it says: "And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted (kamno)." This is a person who has become weak, weary, and faint from suffering the affliction expected of a Christian in a hostile world system. A Christian needs to keep his focus on the coming of the Lord, waiting for his reward, but when he loses his vision, the strong spiritually can help him with prayer and encouragement.

I'm not saying "don't pray for the sick." However, do pray Scripturally. I think you should be able to agree that prayer for the sick is not an emphasis of the Bible. God will heal all of us permanently, giving us all a resurrected body some day. We should depend on Him now for our physical needs and at the same time pray the most for those things that matter the greatest to God.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Coaches and Referees

I'm looking for some Scripture feedback here. It relates to coaching, an office not found in the NT. Specifically I'm asking about the relations of a coach to an official during a game, that is, speaking to a referee so that he can hear you, which in that setting can be yelling and at least talking very loudly. I know that unclean, immoral speech is always wrong. A coach should not use foul language toward, mock or ridicule, or personally verbally attack the referee. What I am talking about is: "He took steps! He's over his back! That's three seconds in the lane! Please call those fouls both ways! My player was set!"

Let me tell you my policy. First, I believe the rule book is the authority for basketball. Second, I believe an official is the judge on the floor, making the application of that rule book. The authority of the referee cannot be questioned but his errors in properly applying the rule book are subject to question. Third, I believe that the referee will make errors, sometimes because of incompetence, other times based upon human frailty, and at times based upon total subjectivity. I personally want a strict construction of the rule book the least affected by emotions. I desire a cerebral referee that applies the rules according to original intent. According to basketball tradition, the coach comments to an official within reason with the purpose of helping him make the correct call as the rules apply to his team. Most games I ask the referees how much he will allow me to talk to him. Every official is different. Some have a zero tolerance policy. Others permit latitude. Some say that they will let me know if I go over the line and they will expect me to behave accordingly. My belief about this is that since the referee is officiating the game, then I will follow whatever guidelines he provides with the understanding that he will tell me if I am violating his authority and that he will tell me, even call a technical foul. I end every game making sure that I have a good relationship with the officials. I don't know of any of them that did not like me before they left the court.

This is exactly the policy expressed separately to me by the commissioner of our little Christian sports league, Mr. Dalton Abshire. He says that he wants the boys to play hard and develop toughness. He wants spirit and enthusiasm out of them. He understands that the coaches will display this too, but should keep their spirit under the restraint of the officials on the court. He thinks that coaches can yell at the referees in the context of the game as long and as loud as the referee permits. I agree with him.

Some coaches have their own way of pestering officials. They complain in a different way that is permissible to them. They do talk to the refs and even pressure them to alter their calls. However, they will rarely raise their voices during a game. These same coaches often do not yell at their players. They believe that players should be spoken to privately about violations, not publically. I am fine with that kind of dealing with a player, although I do not think that this kind of coaching will help players as much as some yelling and a strong, verbal push on them. One coach complained at half time to a referee privately that he was allowing me to get away with the way I was speaking to him. After half time, that official came to me to tell me (laughing) what that coach had told him about me. That official knew what I was doing and he was fine with it. Some people believe it is always wrong to publically disagree with an official. They think it should always be private.

I believe that a basketball game is like war to some degree. It is a battle. Emotion is involved. Often the games are loud. People are shouting. The court is relatively large so it can be difficult to hear. I think officials should be reminded when they are making the wrong call. I like to let them know immediately, right when I see it. I don't think this means I have to challenge every single call. However, I do think it is within my rights to do this and to do it with good conscience. I have good conscience most of the time about what I do. The few times I haven't, I apologized to the referee. I don't believe there is a verse in Scripture that says it is wrong to do this.

My own opinion is that the judgments made against this by others fit within a realm of some kind of political correctness and even feminizing of men in America. People want almost all men to become soft spoken. There are those that have introduced some kind of pseudo-sportsmanship that takes the intensity and enthusiasm out of the sport. I don't want to be emasculated by critics. I don't want to cow-tow to someone's preferences. Sometimes I really do believe that it is nothing more than sour grapes about losing. I would be a much better sport if we had a little more pansy or dainty quality and that transferred to the players. The losing coach is usually very popular with the winning one.

I believe that as long as the referee will permit it, that I am not abusing his authority. I don't believe that I am setting a wrong example to my players about respect of authority. I tell my players that is not in their right to question the officials. I train them to stay quiet and they are especially fine with that, knowing that I will question the calls against us that I do not think are correct. I have had a few games in which I have said very little during a game. Those were good officials. I respect them highly. My degree of respect relates to their competency and objectivity.

I personally believe that this is an application of Biblical principles in which two brethren should be able to differ. I think I should be able to question an officials calls without this being called unChristian. Nothing in the Bible makes an explicit statement with this regards. I don't even think it should be considered a bad testimony. That is something often thrown out to a Christian coach, that his challenge of a bad call was a bad testimony. I don't believe so. I think there is a place in the game for a coaches challenge of an official's call and that nearly every referee expects it. When a referee tells me I am getting too vociferous, I always respect him and ratchet back my commentary. Someone may not believe that this is the right thing for him, and I am fine if he doesn't want to do it. I, however, plan on continuing.

Let me know what you think! RIGHT NOW!!!

Monday, January 08, 2007

I Thought They Believed This?

John MacArthur says this:

Now I believe that basically speaking, rock music in and of itself is problematic—period. And I believe that for many reasons. One is: rock music is a product of a disoriented, despairing, drug-related sex-mad generation. There’s no question about that. The first big rock singer was Elvis Presley, who killed himself with drugs and who went through women, you know, continuously. And he gave rise to the whole rock generation. He was the first, and his whole act was sexual, sensual, you know; it was terrible. Nowadays we think he was comical because we’ve come so far. But the vernacular of rock music at this particular point represents a generation that I have real trouble identifying with. And what happens is if you put a Christian message in that vernacular, I think Christianity suffers immensely because I don’t think you can take that kind of medium and use it to propagate a Christian message.

For example, in the sixteenth chapter of Acts, you have the Apostle Paul on his missionary journey, and he came to Philippi. And a demon-possessed girl came out and started following them around. And the demon-possessed girl said of Paul and his traveling companion, Barnabas, “These men have come to show us the way
of salvation.” Now, was that the truth? That was the truth. They did come to show the way of salvation. Paul turned around and rebuked that girl and cast the demon out of her, because God does not use demonic mediums even to propagate true doctrine. Do you understand? And basically the whole rock thing is tied in with drugs and sex, and the occult, the whole shootin’ match. And people who come out of that scene find it very difficult to listen, say to Christian “rock” without being pulled back into all that stuff that they had in their former life.

I don’t want to say that, you know, now you get into the fine line of what is rock music and what isn’t. I think that’s a decision each individual has to make in a sense. And the older you are, the easier that decision is. I understand that, but you want to be sure that you don’t identify Christ in a medium that is demonic or drug-related, sex-related, and so forth. You want to make sure that Christian music is distinct.

I’ll never forget two guys who walked in—I was speaking at a rally in San Diego for Youth for Christ—a couple thousand kids. I was sitting in the back row waiting to do my thing and there was this group up there, and they were just ripping the place up. And you know, I don’t know what they were saying. Nobody knows what they were saying. God would only know what they were saying. But it was just, you know, a din. And two guys walked in—I’ve never forgotten this—and sat down beside me. And they were pretty cool guys, just rollin’ in. They had the long hair and the whole
bit. And there was a bunch of kids there and they thought they’d come in and see what was going on . They sat down and they heard this stuff, and after about 10 minutes of this, the group finally stopped. And this one guy said, “Hey, man, I thought these Christians had something different. We could hear this anywhere; let’s split.” I never forgot that; they just took off. In the Old Testament, particularly, and you can compare the New as well, the word new is used more times with song than it is with any other noun, more than new birth, more than new life, more than new creation, more than new anything is new song. If there’s anything that identifies a Christian it’s a new song, something different. So I think we have to be very careful about that, all right?
He also said:

There are all kinds of tests that have been done on the various kinds of beat--what they call the "anapestic beat" where you have two longs and a short and all that. You have read about the things that kills the flowers; you know, you put flowers by a radio and play that stuff and they die and so forth. But I would say that there may be some inherent truth in that, but still it wouldn't be moral: killing the flowers isn't necessarily a moral issue. But I think cultures give to music their moral identification--I think they do that. I could hear a song on the radio and you can tell me that in and of itself that song is not a moral issue; those notes aren't moral, but that music makes me think of something sinful because that is the way the culture has portrayed that sinful act through that style of music.

It is like listening to a song that is on strings and violins and thinking of a blue sky and wind blowing through a meadow. Music can do that because of our cultural orientation. So I think that it is an over simplification to just say that rock music is so non-moral that any kind of rock music, if you stuck the right words in it, would honor the Lord. I don't believe that. I think there is a genre of music that has given such a cultural identification that it is impossible to cross the line of putting that into a Christian vernacular without bringing total confusion to what you are trying to communicate.


I also think that the vehicle should be distinctly Christian in some sense. In other words, if we simply mimic the styles of the world in what we do, we have admitted that they have something we want. And, I’m not sure that’s true. . . .

I think, that the best thing to do is to have you listen to the series. There are physiological problems with a hard driving beat and stopped-anapestic rhythm. I went into all that kind of stuff when you have two longs and a short, and so forth. Literally, they planted flowers and they put that music in there and the flowers will die in a few days because it will destroy the cells of the flowers. It destroys the ears of young people. A lot of people even in our own church who play in the music, in the studio music thing, say that they’re losing their ability to hear tones and so forth over a period of time because it just destroys their inner ear. Anyway, I think, the best thing is to listen to that thing--that series of tapes, if you can, because I tried to give a full range to it. . . .

I don’t think anything is wrong with rhythm. God gave us that. Right? I mean, we walk with rhythm. That’s why we walk. I mean, everything in our life is rhythm. My heart beats with rhythm. People say, “Well, you shouldn’t have any rhythm.” You know, they sing stuffy, stodgy things. No, I think, rhythm is part of life, and, I think playing a rhythm is a very normal thing. I mean, when you were a baby, your mother rocked you to sleep with rhythm. You know, that constant rocking. That’s rhythm. And, she sang you a lullaby. I mean, there is rhythm. And, rhythm is a good thing. And, there’s nothing wrong with that, but what when you have a hard constant, driving forcing beat which has sexual connotations or whatever, that’s when you get into trouble.
And John MacArthur said this too:

I don’t ever want to use a style that will drag down the content. It’s highly unlikely that I can put the gospel, for example, in a very contemporary musical genre, and elevate the genre, you understand? The tendency is going to be to pull the gospel down to that level. This isn’t new. There was a song--and I’ve used this illustration before, I’ll use it again--there was a song that came out in the schmaltzy 40s, when everything was sleazy barroom kind of crooning. The pop music, the big time music was all the crooners. And, songs were written for the church like that. And one of them that was very popular, and I remember it even a kid: “I’m in love, deeply in love with the lover of my soul”--yuck!! That is terrible! Because now what you’ve got is you’ve reduced loving God to such schmaltzy sort of sexy relationship that you put in a song sung in a barroom! So, the church isn’t new at doing that. So, what I’m saying is you have to be very careful because musical style can communicate so much culture that all it does is take profound gospel truth and pull it down, rather than the truth elevating the music--it usually works the other way.
He also said this:

Those who don't know God have tried to come up with their own music but it only mirrors their evil. The pulsating rhythms of some native African music mimics the restless, superstitious passions of their culture and pagan religion. Much of the music in the Orient is dissonant and unresolved, going from nowhere to nowhere, with no beginning and no end--just as their religions go from cycle to cycle in endless repetitions of meaningless existence. Their music, like their destiny, is without resolution.

The music of much of the Western world is seductive and suggestive, reflecting the immoral, lustful society that produces, sings, and enjoys it. And a good percentage of rock music, with its bombastic atonality and dissonance, mirrors people who reject both God and reason and float without orientation in a sea of relativity and unrestrained self-expression.

Many of the physical and emotional effects of modern music have allegedly been demonstrated scientifically. Dr. Howard Hansen, director of the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester has stated that "music can be soothing or invigorating, ennobling or vulgarizing, philosophical or orgiastic. It has the powers for evil as well as for good" (The American Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 99, p. 317). He notes that the further the tempo of the music is accelerated, the greater becomes the emotional tension, concluding that rhythmic tension is heightened by the increase in dynamic power.

I remember reading several years ago about a study of the effects of music on plants. The experiment was done on identical plants in an identical environment. Plants exposed to beautiful, soothing music thrived and turned toward the speaker. Plants exposed to hard rock music turned away from the speaker and within three days shriveled and died! Further experimentation indicated that the sound waves of the rock music had actually destroyed the plants' cells.

Whether rock music therefore has the ability to damage the human body or not, things of infinitely greater value have the potential of being destroyed--the hearts and souls of men and women who allow Satan an open door because of what things they put their affections in. When music--regardless of what style it is--is coupled with blasphemous, lewd lyrics, and suggestive body movements, the brain is bypassed, emotions are mangled, and the conscience is hardened. The Greek philosopher Aristotle wisely observed that represents the passions of the soul, and if one listens to the wrong music he will become the wrong kind of person (Problemato, book xix).
The man who organized and set-up the Resolved meeting for which this trailer was made and from which it comes, Rick Holland, writes this in the book generally edited by MacArthur, Fools Gold?:

In other words, the fundamental presupposition is that the gospel is best packaged in a culturally relevant way. But the Bible and its message are fundamentally countercultural.
Earlier, Holland chides a new version of the "Bible," called Revolve:

It is an edition of the New Testament that uses as much camouflage as a Stealth B-2 bomber in its efforts to disguise itself. Looking nothing like any other Bible, Revolve was designed to spare teenage girls the embarrassment of being caught with a traditional copy of the Scriptures.
Doesn't it sound like MacArthur and Holland and others believe there is something to the packaging, the means of communication, associating something holy with profane? They do. So why do they do keep doing it themselves, especially when they also claim to have the high view of the sovereignty of God?

I'll write more about this to explain what it is.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Crossing Over: Proving the Resolve Trailer

John MacArthur recently wrote this:
Let’s face it: Many of the world’s favorite fads are toxic, and they are becoming increasingly so as our society descends further in its spiritual death-spiral. It’s like a radioactive toxicity, so while those who immerse themselves in it might not notice its effects instantly, they nevertheless cannot escape the inevitable, soul-destroying contamination. And woe to those who become comfortable with the sinful fads of secular society. The final verse of Romans 1 expressly condemns those who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. Even when you marry such worldliness with good systematic theology and a vigorous defense of substitutionary atonement, the soundness of the theoretical doctrine doesn’t sanctify the wickedness of the practical lifestyle. The opposite happens. Solid biblical doctrine is trivialized and mocked if we’re not doers of the Word as well as teachers of it.
I agreed, but I said he was inconsistent. I brought up the trailer for the Resolved youth conference marketed on his website, a gathering at which he would speak. Someone asked me to say what was wrong with it. Well, here’s my review. I want to know where I am wrong on this. You let me know. Here goes.

Cake is more than its individual parts—salt, baking soda, flour, etc.—but a mixture of many parts that make up a whole. One could start breaking the trailer into pieces and conclude nothing wrong—guitars are OK, darkness is OK, casual dress is OK, spotlights are OK, etc. That is not how anyone evaluates anything. It would be like looking at a Maplethorpe exhibit and saying, "Sculptures are OK. Dung is OK. Urine is OK. Etc." Do you understand? People are not arguing honestly when they do it that way. If I did a restaurant review and said—"Cold is OK. Food is OK. Sadness is OK. Dirt is OK."—and then concluded that a stinky pit of a restaurant was good when evaluating its individual components, you wouldn’t consider that a good review. If the medium does not affect the message, then the famous Salvador Dali painting of the crucifixion is fine. I don’t think you would agree on Dali. When I critique this trailer, I believe it is an honest evaluation. I don’t want to argue with dishonest takes on the trailer.

The look of the entire trailer is dark, dim, nightclub-like lighting. The first picture of a youth is a young man with a trendy stocking cap on his head indoors, part of the stereotypical American hip-hop fashion of baggy jeans and a stocking cap. The sound is a rock concert-like bass reverb characteristic of the beginning of so many rock songs that directly target the flesh. The youth culture is obviously being catered to with the casual dress on the teens, but also with the speakers. After the initial speech comes a strong bass guitar rift, then a sensual African drum beat. There is nothing wrong with guitars, but the fuzzy, deco zoom onto an electric guitar says: "You will be hearing rock music here, count on it." It also has nothing to do with what is being said unless God’s sovereign grace tends toward being in darkly lit rooms where rock music is going to be played with a sensual, dominating beat. The fuzzy, deco graphics with the Hollywood-apropos appearing and disappearing letters (ala Da Vinci Code), that say—"Go Deep"—are followed by a long look at a rock trap set, as if the key to going deep for God is to involve in rock music. We get more and more dimly lit rooms, dark rooms, theater-like—message: "You’re going to be entertained, count on it." We get a long look at an usher that looks again just like a theater usher opening the door up to a theater. The stage with the transecting spotlights, looks like a rock concert again. We get a man in a long-sleeve t-shirt with his eyes closed and hands out, nothing wrong specifically, except that this is what one sees at a Charismatic meeting, making spirituality this sort of existential, feeling-oriented, get-on-the-right-frequency experience. We see a boy rifting like Eric Clapton on an electric guitar, rock beat, and then a girl swaying rhythmically right after—choreographed sensuality posing as spirituality. We get a rock beat on rock drums with John MacArthur saying "the blazing glory of God," associating the two. We get a unisex-dressed girl playing a violin in a rock style, using it again as a rhythmic instrument rather than melodic, again with the dim lights, spotlights, and screens—theater, entertainment, and rock music. The boy playing the drums has on the trendy hip-hop konga hat. Then comes a fuzzy, psychedelic, drug-trip type of screen fading in and out. The names toward the end use a very worldly technique reminiscent of a modern horror movie, that kids into slasher movies will definitely associate with. At the finish is a curious, monastic chant sound, somehow attempting to make the thing, I believe, "religious."

The top picture above is actually from the Resolved Conference. The picture below it is an actual nightclub and the bottom picture is an actual rock concert. I give these three for comparison for the imagination impaired.